A German competitor of a collection of Dutch brick producers who had received an exemption for an apparently anti-competitive agreement in 1999, complained about that exemption to the European Commission in 2001. The Commission's response to that and subsequent communications from the complainant took between 18 months and two years (despite involvement from the Ombudsman). The Ombudsman has, rather unsurprisingly, found that absent a proper explanation such delay is unreasonable and that the Commission must, at least, apologise.

However, this case is interesting because the Ombudsman has decided to open a separate investigation into the Commission's failure to reach a decision on the complaint. The European Commission has argued that it often makes no decision in such cases as an adverse decision can create barriers to a complainant's domestic civil action and such, more substantive, investigations are unusual in Ombudsman hearings. It will therefore be interesting to see how the Ombudsman scopes and manages this new investigation and what remedies beyond an apology he may look to impose should he decide against the Commission.